Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax appeared headed on a political collision course Sunday with a little-known state delegate from his own party who pledged to introduce articles of impeachment Monday if the 39-year-old Democrat refused to resign.
Fairfax is one of three top Virginia political leaders engulfed in a firestorm of scandal. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, also Democrats, admitted wearing blackface at parties in the 1980s, and Fairfax faced accusations of sexual assault he repeatedly has denied.
Del. Patrick Hope said the state constitution “states very clearly that impeachment should be for high crimes and misdemeanors. There is no question that violent sexual assault clearly qualifies as high crime.”
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said the House could impeach Fairfax given that the GOP seems to “perceive little downside” to it.
“If Fairfax is impeached, it remains unclear whether the Senate would convict,” Tobias told USA TODAY. “A two-thirds vote is needed, and that may depend on the evidence offered.”
Fairfax reaffirmed his innocence Saturday and his intention to remain in office. He called for “space in this moment for due process” and for an FBI investigation. The FBI declined to comment.
Fairfax’s statement came hours after the state Democratic Party joined the chorus of calls for his resignation. Chair Susan Swecker said that in light of the “credible nature” of the latest claims against Fairfax, “it has become clear that he can no longer fulfill the duties and responsibilities of his post.”
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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon